Why Digital Transformation Starts With Product Management

I recently spoke with a product executive at a major networking equipment manufacturer. The topic? Digital transformation.

 The product management team there was being reorganized and tasked with helping the company bring solutions to market that were better aligned with what customers actually needed. The team was referring to the changes internally as a digital transformation, even though I knew it was a lot more.

See, when you strip away all the hype and buzz around digital transformation, you discover that the goal is not really new technology. It is about transforming the entire customer experience using new technology as a tool to improve it. I think most major change initiatives like this are broader in scope, which is why I prefer the term enterprise transformation.

But here is the real discovery I had from that conversation: The product management team was tasked with leading the company's transformation.  

It seems so obvious when you think about it, especially if you are a product professional. You already know how to confront market challenges, rally the organization around a plan and deliver meaningful change. You do it every day with your product and customer.

The best way to take on any type of transformation is a holistic approach that considers every aspect of the customer journey. And product management is in a unique position to make this a reality. That is why the important work typically starts with your team.

Here is why product management is the obvious champion for enterprise transformations:

You Know the Customers

A transformation requires that you deeply understand customer needs and wants. This is something you know better than anyone in the organization. You talk to customers every day; you know that their expectations are insatiable. In our digital-first world, they expect more customization, flexibility and quicker service. You are perfectly situated to listen and respond to these expectations, gaining even more insights and ideas in the process.

You Know the Product

You cannot transform what you deliver until you know it deeply. And you know every single area of your product. Not just the technical side that you work on with the development team, but also how it is sold, marketed and supported. You are able to take a holistic view of the product to understand what technology will deliver a better customer experience. You also understand the dependencies—how the current technology needs to change to make room for the new.

You Know the Teams

When transformations happen, everyone across the organization is impacted. Teams must be willing to learn new ways of working and you are in the best position to lead this charge. You already sit at the epicenter, working with everyone across the organization. And so, you are ideally situated to identify areas that need additional resources, whether it is providing team training or making a new hire.

 The goal of a transformation is actually rather simple: Make things better and better for your customers and the people you work beside every day. Do not let the hype and buzz distract you. And who better to drive this type of change with clarity and the customer in mind?

 In my opinion, it is you, the product pro.

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff is co-founder and CEO of Aha! and author of Lovability, a book for product and company builders. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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